LONGVIEW — The Ridgefield Raptors got caught in a pickle, and it pretty much summed up their four-game series against the Cowlitz Black Bears.
The Raptors were in a familiar spot Thursday at David Story Field, down to their last three outs and needing to make something happen trailing the Black Bears 6-4.
Ridgefield put pressure on Cowlitz relief pitcher Nate Moquin by loading the bases on a Tristan Gomes single and a pair of walks. Then, Trent Prokes battled Moquin to an eight-pitch at-bat and was rewarded with a base hit up the middle of the infield, plating one run.
Yet before Ridgefield got another chance to tie or take the lead, the game came to a sudden halt. Corey Nunez got overzealous rounding third on Prokes’ base hit, and was tagged out after getting caught between the bases. Cowlitz claimed a 6-5 win and took three of four in the series against Ridgefield, all by one run.
Unlike the previous night when the Raptors led for more than half of nine innings, the visitors played catch up Thursday after Cowlitz (25-20) took a 2-0 lead in the second inning on Marques Titalii’s two-run homer against Ridgefield starting pitcher Nate Wenzel.
The Raptors twice tied the game, including a Jovan Comacho RBI single and Julian Nunez sacrifice fly in the fourth inning for a 2-2 tie. Jake Tsukada hit a two-out, two-run double to tie the game at 4-4 in the sixth.
However, Ridgefield’s pitching staff never found its footing. Five pitchers combined to walk eight Cowlitz batters, while Wenzel, Peysen Sweeney and Logan Valtierra each gave up two earned runs.
Valtierra was charged with the loss after Cowlitz broke a 4-4 stalemate with two runs in the sixth on an Ian Riley RBI single and a bases-loaded walk.
Ridgefield (29-16) returns home Friday to host the Springfield Drifters for a three-game series.
Hit the deck – Marques Titalii crushed a two-run home run to the party deck beyond left field against Ridgefield starting pitcher Nate Wenzel in the second inning. Cowlitz took a quick 2-0 lead.
Royle to the rescue – Ridgefield relief pitcher Peysen Sweeney struggled to throw strikes and the Black Bears capitalized in the fifth. Two walks and an Ian Riley loading the bases. Sweeney then hit a batter and walked another, giving Cowlitz a pair of free runs to home plate and a 4-2 lead.
Ridgefield brought in right-handed pitcher Charlie Royle, who promptly got a strikeout and fly out to stop the bleeding.
Need a timely play? Call Jake Tsukada – Trailing 4-2 in the sixth, Henry Muench reached bases on an error and Jovan Comacho beat the throw to first for a single. With the top of Ridgefield’s order up next, Tsukada, Ridgefield’s leadoff hitter, sent a double off the wall in center field to plate a pair of runs.
Trent Prokes – Prokes led the Raptors with three hits and one RBI.
Jovan Camacho – In his first game with the Raptors, Camacho went 2-for-4 with an RBI to bring in the team’s first run in the third inning. Jovan and his twin brother, Ryan Camacho, who also got the start Thursday, both play at College of the Canyons under Ridgefield head coach Chris Cota.
Ian Riley – The Black Bears’ leadoff hitter went 3-for-5 with one RBI.
1.5 – Average margin of victory across the four-game series. Three of the four games were decided by one run, all won by Cowlitz.
3 – Runs scored by the Black Bears without a hit, all with the bases loaded. Two came in the fifth when Sweeney hit a Cowlitz batter and gave up a walk. Reliever Logan Valtierra also gave up a bases-loaded walk in the sixth.
7 – Raptors players who recorded a hit, including three from Prokes and two apiece from Corey Nunez and Jovan Camacho.